Squirm
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Squirm

Carl Hiaasen

Some facts about Billy Dickens:   

* He once saw a biker swerve across the road in order to run over a snake. 

* Later, that motorcycle somehow ended up at the bottom of a canal. 

* Billy isn’t the type to let things go.   

Some facts about Billy’s family:   

* They’ve lived in six different Florida towns because Billy’s mum insists on getting a house near a bald eagle nest. 

* Billy’s dad left when he was four and is a total mystery. 

* Billy has just found his dad’s address - in Montana.   

This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor’s cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.

Review

Billy hasn’t seen his father, Dennis, since he was three. His mum refuses to talk about him and Dennis is a huge mystery in Billy’s and his sister Belinda’s lives. When Billy is finally able to find his dad’s address, despite his mum’s best attempts at hiding it, he steals his mum’s credit card (leaving her a cheque for the amount stolen) and buys a plane ticket from Florida to Montana to find his dad. When he finally arrives he is greeted by his stepsister, Summer, a First Nations American from the Apsáalooke Nation (AKA the Crow Nation) who informs him that his dad is off on a mysterious ‘mission’. Together, Summer and Billy are determined to find out where Dennis goes when he disappears into the wilderness.

Billy and Summer enjoy Enid Blyton-levels of freedom in Squirm (though not always approved of or signed off on by the adults in their lives!) and though they trek about unaccompanied by adults in both the Floridian and Montanan wilderness, they are very sensible about it, even when danger strikes. In this way the book is reminiscent of old adventure stories like Hatchet by Gary Paulson. Squirm is a refreshing and fun story for kids 10+.


Dani Solomon is the assistant manager at Readings Kids.

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